Bibi ka Maqbara: the Taj of Deccan and an ode to motherhood

On 17th June 1631, Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to her 14th child, most likely due to post-partum haemorrhage or excessive bleeding after birth. Interestingly Mumtaz wasn't the only queen who died in child birth during that time. Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain, Empress Xiaochengren, the first Empress Consort of the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty, China, Agafya Grushetskaya (1681), the first wife of Tsar Feodor III of Russia and Gabrielle d'Estrées (1599), mistress of the French King, all died during child birth. In fact Mumtaz Mahal's own daughter-in-law, Dilras Banu Begum, also died 26 years later during, you guessed it right, child birth.

Clearly dying during childbirth wasn't uncommon even among the royalty back then, but Mumtaz and Dilras have something else also in common, which none of the others do. Both their husbands loved them a intensely and when they died they both built extravagantly beautiful mausoleums for them which exist even today to tell their tales of love and labour. While Shah Jahan built the world famous, Taj Mahal for Mumtaz, his son Aurangzeb built Bibi ka Maqbara, or Taj of Deccan for his wife Dilras. Though Aurangzeb commissioned the project, it was his son, Prince Azam Shah, who oversaw it's construction and is often credited for the building as well.

Point to note - Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb were not on good terms at all, in fact when Aurangzeb overthrew his father to sit on Delhi's throne he didn't kill Shah Jahan, but had him jailed in Agra for the rest of his life; the old man saw Taj Mahal slowly coming to life, no longer as a king who commissioned it, but caged in his own fort.

bibi ka maqbara taj of deccan
Bibi ka Maqbara, Aurangabad

bibi ka maqbara taj of deccan
Grave of Dilras Banu Begum

History of Bibi ka Maqbara

Anyway coming back to Bibi ka Maqbara, it's also known as Taj of Deccan as it was inspired by the former. However, by the time Bibi ka Maqbara was built, Mughals were no longer the stellar builders they once were, with Aurangzeb's focus on breaking down temples rather then building many major buildings. If you compare with Taj Mahal, you will certainly be disappointed by Bibi ka Maqbara, but as a standalone building it's certainly a treat to the eyes.

Aurangzeb commissioned the mausoleum three years after his wife died and the monument was finally ready between 1660 to 1661, though many additions were also made later on. The monument is also a great example of Muslim-Hindu collaboration - it was designed by Ata-ullah, an architect, and Hansat Rai, an engineer. It's made in the typical Mughal style with charbagh around it filling the U between the hills in the background and that makes it absolutely gorgeous at sunset.

Interestingly many articles talk about how this was the only large project commissioned by Aurangzeb, this is simply not true. The majestic Badshahi mosque in Lahore was modelled after the Jama masjid in Delhi and is quite impressive and the mosque he constructed in Kashmir is still believed to be the largest in the state.

bibi ka maqbara taj of deccan
Bibi ka Maqbara

bibi ka maqbara taj of deccan
View inside the mosque

My visit to Bibi ka Maqbara

The first time I visited Bibi ka Maqbara was when I was seven years old and barely remember anything, apart from the intense June heat. It was a few months after my first visit to Taj Mahal and to me it looked like a toy version of Taj. The second visit a while back was completely different.

We were on our way to Ellora Caves from Pune, and stopped by Aurangabad to visit the Maqbara. It was right before sunset when the light was golden and I simply fell in love with it. Taj Mahal didn't even come to my mind when I saw it glowing in the light, it's beauty almost restored to its past glory.

bibi ka maqbara taj of deccan
Family relaxing in the garden

bibi ka maqbara taj of deccan
Bibi ka Maqbara at sunset

We spent more time than originally planned, and loved every bit of it. Needless to mention I did quite a bit of photography, but also sat in the garden and chatted up with a few locals too. While M did yoga, I tried finding a way to go up the minaret, and failed spectacularly.

When the sun finally set and we were all asked to leave, we reluctantly continued our road-trip to Ellora. It was a magical evening in a magical place, with quite a bit of dose of history and legends.


Practical details

Entry fee: India, SAARC, BIMSTEC: Rs 15, Foreigner: Rs 200
Timings: 8am to 8pm

bibi ka maqbara taj of deccan
Taj of Deccan

Heritage walk at Bibi ka Maqbara

Aurangabad History Society conducts heritage walks at Bibi ka Maqbara and it would be really interesting to join them in one of these. I love such heritage walks - they are often led by experts in the subject and you can easily get so many of your questions answered.

Follow them here to stay updated.

Reaching Bibi ka Maqbara

Here's the address: Begumpura, Aurangabad, Maharashtra 431004

There is a large parking right outside so you can also easily park your car - that's what we did. It's a little on the city outskirts, but Aurangabad is a much smaller city and it doesn't really matter.

Here's a map for reference:



Comments

  1. ताजमहल इसे देखकर ही बनाया गया है।

    ReplyDelete
  2. Though the structure is nowhere close to Taj in finishes, Bibi Ka Maqbara is still a charming creation. Nice post, Sid.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Before reading this blog, I was totally unaware of Bibi Ka Maqbara. But now, it seems like it is a ‘must visit’ place. Great and very helpful information!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Devanshu! That comment means a lot to me :)

      Delete
  4. Very informative post on "Bibi ka Maqbara" , Amazing pics.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Glad I came across your blog Sid and loved reading this post.
    Well, I ended up reading many of your posts, scrolling pictures on your Instagram and YouTube channels! You are indeed a prolific story teller.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Chirasree! I am so glad you enjoyed the stories on the blog...I will look forward to hear more from you :)

      Delete
  6. " Bibi ka Maqbara" apparently looks like Taj yet it does not compete the Majestic look of Taj Mahal. The finishing touch also is not of that qualitty of Taj which is pride of India

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love reading your blog. It is truly inspiring

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment